Rebuilt Main St. Subway Station Opens . . . Sort Of – QNS.com

Rebuilt Main St. Subway Station Opens . . . Sort Of

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has scheduled completion of the massive $35 million rehabilitation of the busy Main St. subway station, by the end of May, it was learned by The Queens Courier.
Serving the #7 line, the Main St. station attracts the City’s highest passenger volumes of any non-transfer station, according to MTA passenger figures.
When completed, the new terminal will have an enlarged lobby with brightly colored tiles, three new escalators, an elevator for the physically handicapped, rest rooms, glass-bricked walls for added light, new change booths, and the worn stairs and platforms will be refurbished.
Last week, without ceremony, escalators on the station’s east end began whisking surprised morning commuters down to the station level, where they quickly boarded their trains. During the evening rush hour, returning commuters speedily glided up to the street, instead of having to climb up its narrow worn stairs.
During the next 60 days, work crews will rehabilitate the station platform, refurbish station staircases, install an elevator designed to serve the physically handicapped, and mount a giant multiplexed mural on a 35 x 15 foot wall.
Reaction to the sudden partial opening of the project was mixed:
C.B. 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman, whose office has battled for station repairs during the past 20 years, said that she was "thrilled that the project was nearing completion after too many delays." She also hailed the station’s new design, which provides commuters with direct and speedy access between the street and the platform.
An exasperated Councilwoman Julia Harrison declared, "After a three-year construction nightmare, which irrevocably altered the quality of life for downtown Flushing straphangers, businesses, shopkeepers, motorists, and pedestrians alike, the MTA, without announcement or ceremony, finally opened the new escalator entrances and subway platforms on Roosevelt Ave."
She has also expressed concern that the station’s new design has made no provisions for downtown Flushing’s current rapid westward expansion towards the Flushing River.
However, Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin said that despite the inconveniences caused by the construction, "Flushing will be better able to attract consumers to our community and provide convenience for commuters and shoppers." He revealed that he and State Senator Leonard Stavisky had secured the necessary $30 million to fund this project.
The Main St. station is one of the largest passenger generators in the City’s mass transit system. It acts as a major transportation hub that is directly fed by 21 City and private bus lines, four nearby municipal parking lots, four major arterials, and a nearby LIRR train station. Its #7 line provides a speedy and convenient half-hour link between northeast Queens and Manhattan.
The station’s escalators are needed to safely and speedily accommodate well over 40,000 daily commuters between the Main Street station’s very narrow platforms and the street-level’s bustling shopping and business center. Similarly, the station’s narrow staircases severely restrict the movement of hurrying commuters — particularly during morning rush hours when more than half of the daily commuters enter the subway between 6 and 9 in the morning.
Studies conducted by the MTA and the City Transportation Dept., in the heart of the city’s fourth largest retail district, revealed why vehicular and pedestrian congestion is so heavy at the Main St. station: nearly half of the commuters walk to the trains, 42 percent take buses, while about 3,500 passengers drive to the station. Traffic studies show that an estimated 800 cars pass through the intersection of Main St. and Roosevelt Ave. every morning.
Unrenovated since 1928, when it was opened, station repair schedules have been beset by a series of delays, primarily because of a lack of funds:
• The station’s renewal has been in the planning stage for a quarter-century, and in the design stage since 1978.
• In 1983, the project was further delayed because its design failed to comply with a newly-enacted federal law mandating accessibility for the physically-disabled.
• The MTA postponed the project again in 1991 "due to the anticipated shortfall in City capital construction funds."
• Early in 1996, the project was finally approved, only to be halted again by a lawsuit.

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